Economic Pessimism but Generational Optimism: Australian Perspectives Towards 2014

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Despite some signs that Australia’s economy is growing, in general Australians remain cautious, spending remains subdued, and consumer sentiment remains lacklustre.

Rising living costs are still the Number 1 issue for Australians, economic instability is still of significant concern for 3 in 5 Australians and almost half the population thinking that 2014 will be worse economically than 2013.

Economic pessimism in looking forward to 2014

A recent McCrindle study indicates that a surprising 1 in 3 Australians (33%) are very pessimistic about Australia’s economy, stating the economy is worse now than last year and predicting that it will be even worse next year.

27% of Australians sense Australia’s economy strengthening – stating that Australia’s economy is better now and will continue to build in the year ahead – and 25% are optimistic that Australia’s economy is rebuilding, being worse now than last year but hopeful improving in the year to come.

A smaller number of Australians (15%, 1 in 7) feel that Australia’s economy is on a double-dip – having improved this year they sense that things will worsen in 2014.

Males and Gen Y slightly more optimistic about Australia’s economy

In looking at the figures more closely, only 2 in 5 (42%) of Australians feel the economy is better now than a year ago, and just over half (52%) feel that the economy will be better next year.

Males are slightly more optimistic than females, with 58% of males holding to the belief that the economy will be better next year, compared with just 50% of females feel the same way.

Younger Australians are not only more optimistic about what 2014 will hold for them, but also hold more optimism towards Australia’s economy, with 59% of Generation Ys holding to the belief that the economy will be better in the year ahead (compared with 50% of Generation X and 47% of Baby Boomers).

Key concerns for Australians: Living costs, crime, economic instability

When asked how concerned they were about a number of key areas leading up to 2014, Australians panted a clear picture of the current national mood. Here are the top concerns in looking ahead to 2014:

Year after year, Australians continue to feel the largest apprehension towards the rise of living costs, with 4 in 5 (79%) of Australians seeing the cost of living as an extreme or significant issue.

While rising living costs are of concern to all Australians, concerns vary from generation to generation. The issue of climate change, for example, is of greater concern for younger Australians, with 84% of Generation Y believing this to be of concern, compared to only 62% of the Builder Generation. Older Australians are more concerned with issues of safety and immigration, with 89% believing that ‘migration and multiculturalism’ is of concern, compared with 71% of Generation Y and 70% of Generation X holding to this belief.

Trending concerns from 2013 to 2014: Areas of extreme concern

Rising living costs have grown in concern for Australians since last year (extreme concern is up from 46% last year to 48% today), along with gun crime (up from 33% to 35%). Extreme concern regarding refugees and boat arrivals has declined, however, moving from 37% last year to 30% this year.

Table of Concerns 2014

Other major concerns that Australians voiced:

  • Job security and unemployment 
  • Health care availability and costs 
  • Education issues 
  • Government policy and decision making 
  • Loss of values and community spirit

Personally Optimistic: 1 in 2 Australians personally optimistic about the coming year

When it comes to looking ahead to what 2014 will hold for their own lives, over half of Australians (53%) are positive, to some extent, about what 2014 will have in store, expressing that the year ahead will be better than 2013.

Younger Australians are more optimistic than older Australians with 71% of Generation Y expressing the year ahead will be better, compared with just 52% of Generation X and 39% of Baby Boomers holding to the same view.

Social researcher Mark McCrindle says, “The ‘no worries’ attitude Australians are renowned for can be seen in their outlook for the year ahead. Despite the economic uncertainty, more than half of the nation believe 2014 will be a better year for them than 2013 with just 1 in 5 believing that it will be worse. And in keeping with what we have seen with the younger generations in the past, Generation Y are the most optimistic about the year ahead with 7 in 10 buoyant about what it holds compared to half of Gen X and just over a third of Baby Boomers.”

Australians who express strong optimism indicate that they are secure in their financial situation and have increased trust in the new government:

More job security means less stress financially, and I’m feeling more secure about my employment situation. 

I have gotten rid of most of my debts – for the first time in my life have enough money to not have to worry about paying my bills. 

Politically things seem to have settled down – we now have a new government with sound administration and economic management.

Whether going on a holiday, moving house, starting a family or new relationship, getting married, finding their dream job, pursuing new career ambitions, or entering retirement, these Aussies look forward to 2014 as a year of significant change and life events. They look forward to 2014 to bring new and exciting life events, and have a general optimism of the future!

I’ve just moved house, started a new relationship, started a new job and have booked a holiday for 2014. 

Happiness is what you make of it – I try to be positive most of the time. 

I’m making changes in my life – I plan on getting fitter and being more productive in 2014.

Positively forward-looking Australians also report greater trust in Australia’s economic outlook:

Property prices will drop, the stock market is on the up trend, and we’re attracting foreign investment as a safe growth economy. 

The [economic] mood has changed for the better and people are starting to spend. 

International economies are steadily improving, which means the Australian dollar will continue to drift back to its normal rates, improving exports and Australia’s balance of trade.

Even for those Australians for whom 2013 has had its fair share of ups and downs, there is a general optimism that 2014 will have better things in store.

I’ve been very ill and many things have gone wrong this year – my health is now on the way to recovery, so I should be good to go in 2014. 

We have had a terrible year but next year will be better – I’m hoping for improvements. 

2013 was a difficult year for me personally, but I am optimistic about the year ahead.

1 in 4 say that next year will be about the same

A quarter of Australians think that the year ahead will neither be blissful nor doomsday – they expect things to plow on similar to 2013 – economically, relationally, and health-wise.

This cohort sees ‘no big changes on the horizon,’ and anticipates both good and bad times. They withhold themselves from expecting too much change or are pragmatic in not wanting to predict what the future will hold.

1 in 5 Australians think the year to come will be worse than 2013

Australians who expressed that next year will be worse than the current year (22%) mostly expressed concern for rising living expenses and cost of living pressures, coupled with economic uncertainty and a poor job outlook.

Everything is becoming expensive on a daily basis. Life is getting expensive each month and there is no saving. 

Cost of living pressures are becoming unmanageable – bills keep going up with no rise in income to compensate. 

A lot of Australian jobs are going overseas, we’re seeing a slow economic downturn and an increase in youth unemployment.

Mistrust in the new government or apprehension of political decisions concerning social policy are also of concern:

Apprehension is what I feel at the moment as this government is not doing a good job at all, there are too many changes being made. 

Our country is in a bit of a mess - hopefully we will finally grow up!! 

The government needs to start taking care of its own people – especially the elderly and those with a disability.

Click here to download the full research summary.

Welcome to our blog...

We have a passion for research that tells a story, that can be presented visually, that brings about change and improves organisations. And we hope these resources help you know the times.

Our Social Media Sites

Facebook | McCrindle Research Social Media YouTube | McCrindle Research Social Media Twitter | McCrindle Research Social Media Flickr | McCrindle Research Social Media Pinterest | McCrindle Research Social Media Google Plus | McCrindle Research Social Media LinkedIn | McCrindle Research Social Media Mark McCrindle Slideshare

Last 150 Articles


school satisfaction maiden names 24,000,000 entrepreneurial professional speaker train Australia Day 2017 ACT contiki millennials cold younger generations debate engage HSC EFF rich manly Christmas lunch sydney hills tuesday shifts coffee lovers commuters NBRS families digital economy Population Clock population growth middle class sunny days do people still change their surname after marriage? public transport McCridle screenagers census fail Queensland: QLD global generaion housing trends DESTEL media commentary real maiden salary charity workplace English career leadership workshop future eliane miles research pack learning styles sustainable Mark McCrindle in the media SRE training low density prince george Australian Population collaborative urban living index Adelaide suburbs World Water Day housing growth states christian choice workers New Zealand McCrindle Speakers australian real estate chairty ACT Report supply and demand changing face of sydney moreton bay national private wealth Engineering Manager staying in internet sector mccrindle tea repayments lifestyle Education Future Forum hornsby South Australia Channel 7 media the great screenage challenge long weekend Australian Families marketing Christmas Stats princess charlotte local community Christmas data innovative story living year 7 economic mccrindle research mythbusting Jura Australia What is food insecurity? employmer Mark McCrindle research digital innovation the average aussie shbc moderators guide year 12 students parenting interactive NFP event cancelling plans woolworths Tuesday Trend volunteering cooking 24 million sydney speaker australians staying home more consumer marrickville define communicate rule keeper baby name nativity scene neutral bay church in the media infographic wall transport wealth and income study socialising 2016 census results Territory youth unemployment case study education faux-cilising work mates Sydney population The Daily Edition Christmas research census results teleworking growing population trends analyst JOMO wealth and income distribution Northern beaches Event statistics car water futurist young people lalor park keynote speaker father's day communications product royal influence australia Duchess of Cambridge online shopping education future report work from home Love selfie employers census 2016 demography CBD Work place sydney market optimistic world youth day christmas trees care support outsourcing high density living equip 2020 REIV Conference video McCrindle Keynote Speakers baby names report sydneycity weather deloitte public speaker visual Australian Home baby names australia report work-life Black Friday in Australia environmental scanning REIV National Conference media release business performance Western Australia aussie culture graphs weekly earnings social analyst easy rider not-for-profit the lucky country cancelling event ashley fell high school victoria global retail home owner children mccrindle in the media Northern Territory volunteering data Research Executive population Mount Annan-Currant Hill urban development households research data NT retirement professional presenters earning parents Australia Day program technology baby name trends waverton builders learning Australian Trends leader housing market Vocational education norwest networking cars news customer WA Retail belief investment donate Australian Bureau of Statistics population map Word Up casual Wagga Wagga global generations Sydney keynote speaker high density wealth inequality 1975 happy holidays monarchy Australian demographics trend personal growth Generation X life optus my business awards tv Christmas presents communities Social Trend wellbeing baby boomers Queensland annual income SMSF internships presentations priorities Melbourne Cobbitty-Leppington infographics australian community trends report award winner data analyst rental stress plans sydney property market social commentary mccrinlde meetings future of work names new office hobart Scouts mortgage financial dreams rain earn entrepreneurs of today surnames brand experience social research Births offenders vegemite GPO Jura Coffee tips wealth distribution Do It Yourself education future trends of 2016 balance Gen Y leadership CPI brisbane participants income cultural diversity business index stats toys unemployment logan Canberra coffee teaching jobs food bank donation insights sunburnt country ACF17 rise of local DIY winter kate middleton organisational culture VET surname micro commute Australian Dream Assistant Store Manager affordability pharmacy Australian schools sydney metro suburb google for education charities emerging technologies generation renting insight results snapshot anzac royal census culturally diverse growth men collaboration gold coast organisations educated goals FOMO resilience Sydney’s south west gender skills IT Specialists Australian Census home acf15 population milestone litter cancel plans huffington post going out healthy future Hills Shire Council spend future proof debt analysis Macquarie University ageing population conference presentation identity china travelling communication the hills shire urban Aussie careers forum high density apartments 23 million census data rising house prices Performance Sentiment Index ease of travel australian gen alpha Channel Seven 10 years generation Z brand local communities investor report professional services Australian community trends sydney event growth of sydney survey menai work crows nest wolloomooloo paying to work forecast demographics summer mobile wages mythbusters Gen X HR dreams average sydneysider leadersip internship facts geomapping motivate Elderslie-Harrington park Gen Z Expert ageing generations mentor recap clothing conference trends of 2017 "know the times" stay home society 2016 hunger cash social researcher award bus showreel holidays royal baby faith baby boom teachers indonesia ipswich house prices 2009 royal family Maxim Accounting average aussie 1980 office opening social media Financial Planning Association of Australia sydneysiders global generation emerging generations property market christmas apartment future of shopping housing affordability young australians ferry US socialites university investing bondi giving relational women Australians business social life marriages tea schools students australian communities trends report daily commute google social trends Financial Planning Week area urban taskforce SMART group speakers optus McCrindle Speaker panel public speaking alpha trades bureau know the times wage researcher financial independence publication learner energy Wodonga Financial Planning Association non profit Business analysis Tuesday Trends quote nfp trend tuesday increasing densification darwin sports ultimo owning a home medicine market research demographic trends entertainment house survey design not for profit twentyseventeen gig economy city language qualitative research personalities gig social impact poker master New South Wales safe sun Valentine’s Day in depth interviews child care blaxland Sydney Hills Business Chamber couple post rationalism wealth professional affordable Tasmania state sydneysider education sector omnibus Lower Hunter goal property development ethnography TDE grave decision Real Estate Institute of Victoria volunteers rent community engagement apartments student family shopping centre politics Skilling food unaffordable education research research visualisation social lives national wealth breakfast megatrends happiness Royals community event relevant Black Friday Australia street January 26th who is generation z baby names divorce christmas 2017 Sydney the hills teach The ABC of XYZ residents PSI average Australian greatness townhouses Netflix screenage friends pyrmont schools purpose social researchers the australian dream Myth list typical australian speaker potts point Charlotte change poor shopping USA 2013 demographic transformations Research Director live the dream property price Black Friday Sales ACF2017 engagement VIC focus group James Ward budget staff 1968 dream suburban living shopper's pick focus groups events cloudy days the changing face of society trends Christmas season social analysis Aussies learn not for profit research thrive future of education sector wide cultural diveristy research services india sector wide study Willowdale February 16 office social shifts intern Generation Y seasons presentation Christmas in Australia event experience environment office space TAS house price aged care puzzle keynote 40 million renter of the future criminal Hunter Valley social commentator group session volunteer australian social research local Crime Rates travel thought leadership Understanding and Engaging with Generation Z Res Vis mining boom school students divorce rate world land of the middle class financial speakers pack home ownership cica hopes Deaths economy #censusfail visualisation finance youth data visualisation school cartodb cost employmee curiosity Real Estate FPA winter blues professional development university degree financial future TED talk perth culture hills friendship new york times educhat Kirsten Brewer data food insecurity daily telegraph generation alpha proactive pharmacies mother's day ashley mckenzie newspaper fresh conference speaker storytelling spirituality demographic cost of living global authenticity Bathburst Wellington Merry Christmas holiday dare to dream 1994 Sydney Lifestyle Study resource social issues Christchurch 2012 australian communities forum faux-cilise grandparents meals baby mover and shaker financial planning slideshare ABS tertiary education eliane Northern Beaches Christian School tattoos narcissism seasons greetings click household employment 2016 census domestic generational trends easter NEETs social mateship Kiwi small business research report infographic aged care 2015 speajer research on coffee ACF System's Architect commuting demographer capital cities Andrew Duffin sentiments house price rise vegetarian property social enquiry TED emerging trends baby name predictions global financial crisis religion workforce brands Christmas day buildings future proofing Australian communities marriage ideas impact Northern Beaches Australian Communities Trends hills shire faux-ciliser New Zeland capital city TEDx Speaker workshop earnings NBRS Architecture micro apartments christianity 2014 ACF 2016 TEDx future-proof conferences Geoff Brailey entrepreneur VET sector gen z responsive Hornsby Shire Council trends village forecasting national crime rates millenials social change consumerism housing hello fresh community dreaming Caregiver wedding public holiday teacher overcast Christmas day weather follow workplace culture government media activity crime SA 2017 jobs of the future money mccrindle NSW fears urban living financial fears 1995 tableau Lower Hunter Region dessert online etiquette celebration millionth